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Japanese Paper Art and How to Fold your Own

Updated on October 29, 2014

Origami: Japanese Paper Art For Everyone

Origami, the art of paper folding, has been popular since the early seventh century,

Perhaps you first saw this magical technique as a child, did you make one of the famous paper Peace Cranes in school ? Seeing an ordinary piece of paper turn into some type of creature or toy is fascinating. How is it done?

In only a few minutes you will be folding paper before you know it. Here's how to make a few simple items and directions to more intricate Japanese Paper Art.

Warning : Once you get started it's very hard to stop!

I really want to make some origami doodly things. After some frustrating attempts, I picked out the best youtube videos and now I'm getting stuck into it. Wish me luck, I just can't seem to fold them!

You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em

Creating Business Card Origami

I thought I'd try my luck at making an Origami Business Card Cube.

To be honest, I had dreams of amazing my friends and earning the admiration of a small grandson, but the result wasn't really what I had hoped for.

If you can get a good-looking result, please let me know.

Beautiful Business Card Origami

Business Card Origami from Nancy Oram

How about you? Can you compare with Nancy?

Origami - the basics

Pureland origami is a style of origami that is done by creating only one fold at a time.

  • A valley fold is the first basic fold, in which you fold the paper forward onto itself
  • A mountain fold is the second basic fold, in which the paper is folded behind itself. An easier way to do this is to turn the paper over first and then do a valley fold and turn the paper back over again
  • A pleat fold is several evenly-spaced parallel mountain and valley folds. Also called an "accordion fold."
  • A radial pleat fold is an angled pleat fold, usually with a focus point on an edge or corner.
  • A blintz fold is made by folding the corners of a square into the center. This can be achieved with higher accuracy by folding and unfolding two reference creases through the center.

Dollar Origami

Amaze yourself with the designs in Dollar Origami.

As origami-wizard, Won Park, says "A dollar won't buy you a camera or a shark—but there is a way to make it into one"!

Not for the beginner, more for someone who can make teeny, weeny folds.

If you've got a little bit of origami practice behind you, this is just inspiring!

Origami Creations by Won Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size

History of Origami

Samurai would exchange gifts with a form known as a noshi, a paper folded with a strip of dried fish or meat, as a good luck token. Shinto Noblemen would celebrate weddings by wrapping glasses of sake or rice wine in butterfly forms that had been folded to represent the bride and groom.

As easier papermaking methods were developed, paper became less expensive and origami became a popular art for everyone.

For centuries there were no written directions for folding origami models but passed down by example over the generations. Then, in 1797, a book was published containing the first written set of origami instructions. That book was How to Fold 1000 Cranes.

According to ancient legend, if a person folded 1000 cranes, they would be granted one wish.

Origami can represent social causes, but it's still the simple art of paperfolding, available to anyone with a little patience - and a lot of time - on their hands

One Thousand Paper Cranes

Ten years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Sadako Sasaki died from leukemia from the radiation.. Before she died, Sadako determined to fold one thousand paper cranes.

An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury.

The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy beasts (others include the dragon and tortoise), and is said to live for a thousand years.

This is the story of the Thousand Paper Cranes .....

How to fold a Peace Crane

Did you do these at school? I wish we had videos available when I was trying to make mine.

A Heart for a Valentine

A beautiful accessory for your table setting

Origami Angel

Origami Magic Ball for Holiday Decorations

Even I managed to make this!

Kirigami! More Japanese Paper Art

Kirigami is another form of folding paper where you are allowed to make small cuts in the paper.

I remember these from school, we seemed to spend a lot of time making paper snowflakes. Unfolding the paper snowflake was always a delightful surprise because it's almost impossible to make the exact pattern twice! Just like a real snowflake.

In origami, papercutting is frowned upon as it's considered that cutting is unnecessary for a skilled folder. But let's face it, we aren't all artists and kirigami is much easier to do than pure origami.

Origami Essentials

Essential Origami: How To Build Dozens of Models from Just 10 Easy Bases
Essential Origami: How To Build Dozens of Models from Just 10 Easy Bases

In addition to more than 1,000 step-by-step illustrations, Essential Origami contains helpful paper-folding tips, note-worthy trivia, and fascinating explanations that illuminate the worlds of both ancient and contemporary origami. A compendium to delight the novice and the expert alike.


The Art of Origami is Universal

Origami also flourished in other parts of the world.

Arabs brought the techniques of papermaking to North Africa, and in the eighth century the Moors carried the skill to Spain. The Moors, a strict religious people, were forbidden to create representational figures so their paper folding was geometric. You can see this in the stars and boxes we still make.

Modern origami was popularised in the 1930s when Akira Yoshizawa designed thousands of models of various subjects. His work was exhibited through the West and inspired new generations of paperfolders.

The art form continues to evolve and is now beyond the traditional origami.

Styles and techniques include: technical origami, mathematical origami, contemporary origami, modular origami, wet folding origami, pureland origami, dollar bill origami, and business card origami.

© 2009 Susanna Duffy

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    • profile image

      taliasmith23 3 years ago

      Not sure if I have enough time to do the more complex ones but origami is cool

    • FancyThatUK profile image

      FancyThatUK 4 years ago

      I love Origami! I use youtube videos to learn how to fold them

    • worldwidesouven profile image

      worldwidesouven 4 years ago

      My wife and my daughter make some origami toys - very beautiful, love them. Thanks for your lens.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      The Geisha paper art looks so sweet

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Origami looks so great in all different types colors and shapes. Love it

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